Wind energy, also called wind power, is the most efficient energy source we have today.
If it were more accessible in urban areas and could be used without a supplementary power source, wind could quickly eliminate the need for fuel-based energy sources.
Keep reading for a full look at our list of interesting facts about wind energy.
Our list provides a simple but in-depth understanding of wind and the energy it can provide.
13 Interesting Facts About Wind Energy
We have assembled a list of 13 facts that we think anyone who is interested in wind energy should know.
Our list is in no particular order and highlights multiple facets of wind energy, including its uses, history, and the notable pros and cons of the power source.
1. How Wind Energy is Produced
Wind energy is produced through a straightforward process that involves using a wind turbine to take the kinetic energy of the wind and convert it into electricity.
The blades are then forced to turn when the wind blows into them.
Consequently, the blades rotate the turbine’s router which powers the generator, enabling the generator to produce electricity.
2. Charles F. Brush Discovered Wind Energy
Wind energy was initially invented in 1887 by Charles F. Brush when he created the first wind turbine.
However, many scientists have a hand in developing the wind energy ideas that we know today.
Brush’s invention was the first turbine used to transform wind into electricity successfully and was just one of over 50 inventive creations by Brush.
3. Wind Energy has Been Used Since 1887
Wind energy has been used in different ways since Brush’s invention.
However, wind energy has dramatically advanced since Brush first used it to power one single light.
In the years to come, scientists from all over the world have worked to improve Brush’s original wind turbine.
These advancements have brought us the impressive models of today that supply power to commercial electric providers.
4. Wind Energy is Renewable
Energy sources that are natural and always available are known as renewable energy sources.
Since wind is the source used to produce wind energy, wind is one of these renewable energy sources.
No matter how much wind we use, there will always be more available.
Read More: Best Renewable Energy Source for the Future. We go through the most reliable renewable energy sources!
5. There are 3 Main Types of Wind Energy
Offshore, distributed, and utility are the three main types of wind energy.
The main difference between the three is the amount of power they can produce.
Distributed wind energy provides the lowest amount of energy. It is generally used to power an individual home or business that is not connected to official power grids.
Commercial power companies utilize utility wind energy. This type of wind energy produces enough electricity to aid the supply of commercial companies.
Finally, offshore wind energy is provided by a larger turbine that sits in a body of water and produces the largest amount of electricity.
6. Wind Energy has 5 Main Uses
When you think of wind power, you may only think of a renewable energy source for powering homes and farms in rural areas.
However, it has other interesting uses, as well.
To Generate Electricity
Generating electricity is the most common and widely known use of wind energy.
Wind turbines have various sizes and efficiency levels depending on how much electricity they need to produce.
Wind energy can be used on a small scale to supply electricity to single homes.
On the other hand, large offshore turbines and wind farms can produce enough electricity to help supply large commercial power grids.
To Supplement Solar Power
As you probably know, solar power is another green energy source that can be used in many of the same ways wind energy is used.
The disadvantages of solar energy is that the electricity stops flowing once the sun goes down.
Many who want to use fully green energy sources use wind and solar power together to complement each other.
For example, during dark periods, wind can be used to provide electricity when solar power cannot be generated.
To Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Marine Transportation
Boats have come a long way since early sailboats.
However, many fuel-powered ships are beginning to use wind energy to help reduce their carbon footprint on the environment.
When wind energy is used to propel the ship, it reduces the need for other fuels.
Wind energy also lowers the cost of operating the vessel and the adverse effects on the environment.
To Produce Food
Wind energy is surprisingly most commonly used in food production to help grind grain.
Grain farms use special windmills to grind the grain that contributes to the grain-based foods we eat.
In addition, studies are underway to create nitrogen fertilizer using wind energy.
Nitrogen fertilizer is currently an enormous expense for farmers because it is generated from fossil fuels and is typically imported.
Using wind energy as an alternative for producing nitrogen fertilizer has fewer adverse environmental impacts and also lowers costs for the farmers who need it.
To Pump Water
Windmills are often used to pump water.
When the wind turns the blades on these windmills, it sends the mechanics that pump the water into motion.
Using wind energy to pump water is growing in popularity.
More are accepting this method because it eliminates the need for fuel-powered pumps, making their operation much more cost-effective.
7. Wind Energy has Several Advantages
The use of wind energy has countless advantages and many positive impacts on the environment as the process doesn’t create as much pollution.
Wind energy also boosts the economy by creating many new jobs and provides a cheaper alternative to those willing to invest in the initial investment.
Wind Energy is not as Harmful to the Environment
Because wind is a natural source that we can use to generate power, power generated from things like fossil fuels is not as in demand.
Thus, when using wind to create power, there are not as many harmful emissions released into the environment.
Using fossil fuels to generate power releases pollution into the air we breathe, and some contribute to global warming.
The more we can reduce the need to generate power from fossil fuels, the more toxins we can keep out of the environment.
Read More: Air Pollution Causes and Effects. Learn more about the impact of air pollution.
Wind Energy is Cheaper than Fossil Fuels
Once the initial investment has been made to convert wind into electricity, onshore wind energy and other alternatives to fossil fuels cost substantially less than fossil fuels.
Reasons for this include:
- Wind is not regulated by the government like fuel. Once you have the property and equipment, there are no recurring costs for wind used to generate energy.
- Fossil fuels have recently experienced a significant rise in cost.
- The initial investment to generate wind energy has decreased.
- The government now provides subsidies that return a large portion of the initial investment to use a natural energy source.
The initial investment required to generate wind electricity is a bit costly.
However, the government subsidies and money saved on this renewable power source save you money in the long run.
Wind Energy Boosts the Economy
Producing wind energy creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in areas such as:
- Project Development
Not only does it open up more job opportunities, the opportunities include very well-paid positions.
Read More: Pros and Cons of Wind Energy. We explore various arguments for and against wind energy.
8. There are Disadvantages to Wind Energy
While wind energy is a cheaper alternative that helps improve the economy and environment, it also faces some disadvantages.
The most significant downfall of wind energy is that it cannot be used on its own.
Since the wind isn’t constantly blowing, you need a supplementary energy source.
In addition, wind farms can be loud and decrease the value of the properties close to them. They also pose a threat to certain types of wildlife.
Wind energy’s disadvantages are likely why it isn’t used more than it is.
Wind Turbines Can be Loud
The noise put off by a single wind turbine is about the same as a diesel-powered truck or a tractor.
Older wind turbines were much louder, but modern updates have significantly reduced the noise.
While this may not seem too bad, within earshot of a wind farm, the sounds of many of them running together would likely cause a disturbance in peaceful environments.
This is especially true for the quiet, rural areas where wind farms are usually placed.
Wind Turbines Can Kill Birds and Other Wildlife
One of the most challenging disadvantages for wind energy to overcome is that birds and other flying wildlife often fall victim to windmill blades.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to protect them from flying into the turbines.
Wind Farms can Negatively Affect House Prices
Residential homes within view of wind farms have been reported to be valued less for reasons related to wind farms.
The closer the house is to the wind farm, the more its value decreases.
This is likely due to the turbines’ sound and the visual effects they have on the land surrounding them.
9. Wind Energy is Used the Most in China
China uses more wind energy than any other country in the world and represents one-third of the wind energy used in the world.
However, the US is working to take the lead and likely will.
The US has the advantage of available funding for its wind energy projects, while China has not been able to invest as much as is needed to hold its place.
10. The World’s Biggest Wind Farm is Located in China
China also has the largest wind farm that sits on dry land.
This farm is located in Gansu Province and can produce up to 5 times as much energy as competing wind farms.
The massive farm currently consists of 3,500 turbines.
However, once the plans for this project have been fully carried out, the farm will consist of 7,000 turbines, enough to power a small country.
11. There are 2 Types of Wind Turbines
Horizontal and vertical axis turbines are the two basic types of wind turbines.
Both of these types are efficient and beneficial in the appropriate setting.
The most apparent difference between the two is their appearance.
When you picture a wind turbine, the typical image that comes to mind is a horizontal-axis turbine.
Unlike the blades of horizontal-axis turbines, the blades of a vertical-axis turbine are perpendicular to the ground.
Horizontal-Axis Wind Turbines
Efficient and popular, these turbines are the type that is most widely used throughout the world.
This is because these turbines can produce a higher amount of electricity from the wind energy they receive.
The only downside is that they have to be placed upwind to work.
Turbines of this type are better suited when smaller amounts of electricity are needed, making them ideal for residential power needs.
In addition, this type does not have to be placed upwind, as its blades will turn regardless of where the wind strikes them.
12. The Future of Wind Energy: Wind Energy is Growing Fast
As advancements in wind energy continue, it could easily provide a quarter of the power needed to power the whole planet.
Future improvements could also make the cost of wind energy decrease even more.
It is also estimated that wind energy could bring more than 6 million new jobs to the job market within the next 30 years.
13. Understanding the source
For those who are uninitiated, wind energy can seem like a complex concept.
In order to have a complete understanding of wind energy, you first need to understand the source that makes it possible.
What Causes Wind?
Wind is caused by different air pressures that result from uneven heat levels in various areas of the planet.
Hotter air rises and becomes lighter (low air pressure) than cooler air, which causes an imbalance in the air pressure.
The air from cooler areas will always move to the areas where the pressure is lower to maintain balance. The movement of this air is wind.
The 4 Types of Winds
There are four different types of winds: planetary (also known as permanent), periodic, local, and seasonal.
The main difference among the types of wind is what causes it:
- Planetary: Blows constantly and remains in the same belt of the earth throughout the year. These winds result from the movement of high and low air pressures.
- Periodic: Observable constantly in specific locations as a result of the characteristic of the area.
- Local: Result from the shape of the landscape or the fact that the area is near water.
- Seasonal: Are caused by the rapid heating or cooling of the earth.
Check out this TED Talk for even more wind energy facts:
How Big is a Windmill?
Windmills vary in size.
The size of the windmill is based on many factors, including its location, what it is used for, and how much power it needs to generate if it’s used for generating electricity.
How is Wind Energy Stored?
Wind energy can be stored in several different ways.
However, it is most commonly stored in batteries, tanks, and underground caverns.
Is Wind Energy Free?
While the source of wind energy is free, it still requires the purchase of equipment.
This equipment will also occasionally need maintenance.
Why is Wind Energy Expensive?
The initial investment needed to start using wind energy is expensive due to the nature and sustainability of the equipment.
However, wind energy remains one of the most affordable of all the renewable energy sources available.
Is Wind Energy Cheaper Than Solar?
The advances made in wind energy research have made it cheaper than solar power. This is because they are now able to produce equipment at lower costs.
How Tall is a Wind Turbine?
280 feet tall is the average height of a wind turbine.
However, wind turbines come in a vast range of heights.
There are many interesting facts about wind energy.
Most importantly, it provides a more cost-effective energy source with fewer adverse environmental effects.
While it has disadvantages, future improvements in the field of wind energy will likely eliminate many of them.
In addition, wind energy provides the comfort of knowing that there will always be an energy source, even if traditional means are eventually exhausted.